North Wales KOM Series – Round 3

Having suffered with a bad infection from a recent crash I decided to test my legs at the North Wales KOM series out of Ruthin..a decision I  soon regretted! Now my excuses are done I’ll get on with the write up.

I was excited to race. This was a ‘proper’ circuit that you didn’t have double figures of laps to do, I was hoping to take in the scenery…didn’t get much of a chance. There was a 5km neutral lead out from Ruthin and then the race started from the base of the first time up Nant-Y-Garth. The circuit was around 39km and involved climbing up Nant-Y-Garth and then a long descent back down towards Corwen and then a fast run down the A494 back to the foot of the main climb. On the 3rd time round the circuit you caried straight on after Nant-Y-Garth and up the infamous Horshoe Pass. A circuit for the climbers…of which I am not!

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Ruthin Circuit

We had 4 guys representing Team Chronomaster start the race (Ste, Craig, Kris and George), a few more had entered but unfortunately technical issues halted play for them. I turned up with Ste to a foggy, damp Ruthin. We were both wondering whether warming up the legs or staying in the car was the best decision, we obviously decided on the latter.

After a long neutral lead out we were at the foot of the first climb. A few riders fractured off from the gun, I decided that this wasn’t a race I was in contention for a decided to just give it a go up the climb to test my legs. I felt good, overtook one of the early guys to break away, looked behind me andsaw the whole peloton. Any chance of a early break was not happening for me. I slowly moved back in the bunch and regret leading the bunch up the climb at a high pace that I now had to try and maintain.

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Feeling a bit uncomfortable after the first ascent!

The first lap everyone seemed to be getting used to the roads and wet conditions. Everyone was riding well and communicating, I think I only heard one outburst in the whole race! (choppy riding!). On the descent back to Corwen was (where I believe) the winning move happened. A few riders were up the road and Louis Szymanski broke off from the main group and chased them down. Louis then attacked them and solo’d to victory! Very impressive riding!

Going up the climb a second time the pace was a bit more manageable. On the long descent a few breaks started to form. Being on a descent these never lasted long. With about 4 riders up the road I jumped on Richard Taylors wheel and we attempted to bridge, unfortunately Richard had a mechanical and there was no way I was bridging alone…back in the bunch I go.

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Ste enjoying the elements…

The last time down the A494 the pace eased off. A few teams had riders up the road and were doing their best to interfere. I knew I wasn’t going to make it up with the main bunch going full tilt on the last climb so I got to the front and tried to pick the pace up, hoping it’d help some of the other Team riders catch the riders ahead.

I lost the bunch on the kicker up into Llanfair Dyffryn Clwyd as the mountain goats took off. I was with a small bunch of riders one of whom was Kris who I found had no rear mech from about 5 miles into the race. Impressive ride to get that far with only two gears!

I did the last climb at the best pace I could (about 100 watts less than the last two times!). Rolling across the line was enough for me at this point. I finished 45th, I didn’t crash so a win in that respect!

The story was very different for Craig and Ste who came in 7th and 22nd respectively………

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Thanks to VC Melyd for hosting an excellent series of races. Thanks also to Peter Nash for the images. More can be seen HERE!

Here is a great video from the series winner Ollie Blagden, footage of the finish 2 minutes in:

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Smithfield Road Race 16/07/2017

By Neil Wood

Another early start for me.  I woke up at 04:50 when my 19 year old daughter came home from a night out with her friends all back from uni.  My alarm was set for 05:00, so just decided to get up instead of lingering in bed for ten minutes. She looked at me in astonishment that I was up so early to compete in a bike race. These early starts are a regular occurrence of course, but she has no idea as she’s usually getting out of bed by the time I have finished the race.  This being new to her, she told me that I was “a bit daft”. I have to say, I actually agreed with her. She went to bed and I got my breakfast.

I collected John Myburgh on the way who recently moved to Buckshaw in a new build house on a newly built road. It’s so new, his postcode was not on Google Maps  and it took me to the wrong location. Coincidentally when Google  told me I was there, I  was outside another new build with an identical car to John’s in the driveway which caused some confusion. We had to resort to an old fashioned phone conversation, turn left here, right there etc.

Eventually after this faffing around we were on the M6 heading up towards Carlisle to race in the Rock To Roll Cycling Club road race at Smithfield.  We love the Rock to Roll races. They are always well organised, on great courses with stunning Cumbrian scenery.  They attract riders from around the North and the competition is pretty fierce, which makes great competitive racing. Of course the tea and cakes afterwards are the best yet. The skies brightened and the sun made an appearance and it looked set to be a perfect day for racing. We met our team mate John Bamford at the HQ as well as team mate Jon Fowles who was racing in the E/1/2 race. A few team tactics were discussed and the race was underway following a good length neurtalised zone.

As we made our way to the start line, I began thinking about this same race last year where I came 5th when I managed to get in a breakaway group on the last lap and gained about 30 seconds on the chasing bunch. It was a move that worked well for me. I decided that if I was to improve on last year, then I need to employ the same tactic again this year.  If so inclined, my report on this race can be read here…..

Greyhounds out of the traps is one way to describe the start of the race once the flag was dropped. A couple of teams took to the front with the intention of smashing the race to pieces. To a large extent this worked as riders began to be shelled out of the back early doors. At the end of the race my Garmin recorded an average speed just shy of 25 mph, so a pretty fast race. We kept ourselves near the front to do our usual thing of marking any attacks and where the opportunity presented itself, initiate our own attacks with the intention of getting away.

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John M and Neil teamwork. Picture by Ellen Isherwood

This happened towards the end of the second lap. I was making myself busy with a couple of others chasing down a 4 man breakaway group. They managed to get a short distance for a few miles, but we brought them back.  I happened to be at the front when they were eventually caught. It was then I saw two riders from Horwich CC take an opportunity to counter attack as we approached the 500 metre uphill drag to the start/finish line. They got about 20 metres and I was not going to do any more chasing at this point. I was hoping that John B or John M would see that I was at the front and not going to work, thus giving one of them a chance to jump across to the Horwich lads and get away. Intuitively,  John Bamford saw this, sprinted past me and caught them, his presence gave an additional impetus  as they sped away up the hill, whilst I still plodded along and made no effort to chase, with the entire peloton behind me. This worked for the best part of a lap, the three of them got out of sight, but were not forgotten and a concerted effort was made by the chasing bunch to eventually bring them back.

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John B on the attack with his two Horwich CC compatriots. Picture by Ellen Isherwood

Around half way through the race we saw Jon Fowles by the side of the road watching our race go past, we were not sure what happened to him, but afterwards he told us, in his words “Was doing a corner attack….but the ground attacked me instead” Jon has had a phenomenal season so far with a top 10 in every race he has entered including coming second to pro rider James Gullen of JLT Condor in the Elite race at Cockermouth.  He’s fine and so is his bike, some torn clothing but most of all, this little mistake has proved to us that he is actually human after all and we like him all the more for it!

I made several efforts to try to force a break by putting in some big attacks with a couple of other riders. We soon got caught though due to a lack of cooperation in sharing the work. When chasers caught us, they wouldn’t work either, they were happy to just chase us down.

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Neil on the attack. Picture courtesy of Robin Clark

This went on for the rest of the race, but nobody got away. The last lap was a bit frantic, there was a big crash that myself and John M avoided, but John B got caught behind it, fortunately he stayed upright, but did have to stop as at least 6 to 8 riders were down in front of him.  This affected his position in the bunch so had to chase hard to get back on. On the final lap, we entered the final stretch of road which carries on for about 3 or 4 miles before the left turning to the uphill finish line. The two previously mentioned Horwich riders took to the front and one of them was giving his team mate the lead out of his life. At least 3 miles of rolling road with a decent tail wind and pace was set at around 29 mph. Fortunately for me, I was fourth wheel taking advantage of the lead out and John M was on my wheel. We were in a great position, especially since the bunch got completely strung out single file due to the pace set by the Horwich rider. A few attempts were made by riders behind us to better their positions by coming out of position and riding up the line, but they couldn’t do it as the pace was too intense for them, and they fell back to their positions.

Entering the 500 metre uphill drag I got to third wheel and just started chasing the wheel in front of me, I could see he was strong so stuck with him with John M chasing my wheel. I was doing well, a cursory look behind and we had some distance on the main bunch, just a few scattered riders chasing us up the hill. Around 20 metres to go just when I thought I may be able to win this, the two riders in front sped up to try to take the win. I began to lose the wheel in front of me! I made a big mistake here, I decided to get out of the saddle to keep on the wheel and immediately cramped up in both legs, this cost me about a second or two and promptly slammed back into my saddle. This lost couple of seconds allowed two of the chasers to pip me on the line by a wheel and half a wheel’s length. I rolled over for 5th place and John Myburgh got 7th. John Bamford came home in the bunch as he was never able to recover his position after being caught behind the crash.

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Front bunch on uphill drag sprinting for the line. Picture by Ellen Isherwood

I was a bit annoyed with myself for trying to sprint out of the saddle, but still pretty happy with 5th place – the same as last year, but this time in a bunch sprint rather than being in a breakaway group. In the process of getting 5th, I accidentally got my second category promotion. I have always maintained that I would rather be a decent 3rd cat who can compete well, such as in a race like today’s rather than be a struggling 2nd cat. But there you go. It means that I am just going to have to train like a demon over the winter if I want to succeed next year. With our winter training programme and team mates around me offering endless encouragement and support, it’s a certainty that I will be working hard and living up to expectations.  So no alternative. Rather than this year be a decent 3rd cat, I am going just have to be a decent 2nd cat.

Many thanks to Robin Clark at Rock 2 Roll Cycles for another fantastic race

Many thanks to Ellen Isherwood for her continued presence taking great pictures

Thanks to sponsors LeisureLakesBikes  Specialized Bicycles  Chronomaster  OTE

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3RT Dave Rayner Memorial

by Neil Wood

Just having returned from a trip to the Domomites last week with charity fundraisers for Bolton Lads and Girls Club, I was a bit out of sorts this week. We covered 650 miles and climbed 104,000 feet in 8 days so had plenty of mileage in the legs which was telling. On Tuesday I got a sports massage and some physio on a niggling knee pain, but generally speaking I was feeling pretty much ok for today’s race

It was only myself and team mate John Bamford out today, he was first reserve so got a ride and I had already been accepted. No real plan of action other than to mark any attacks and if legs were willing initiate any breaks. Not long into the race I realised that I was probably still feeling some fatigue from the Dolomites. At the back end of the trip, and at the back end of a tough day of 15,000 feet of climbing we attempted Monte Zoncolan where I got the serious bonk, and I realised that was really the last time I saw my legs and they were still stuck on the side of that toughest of tough climbs.

None the less, I persevered as the course was one that suited me, it was the Norland circuit near Halifax, which was more of an undulating course with a maximum incline of 6 percent and not a mountain in sight.  The race was just shy of 50 miles with 12 laps and the uphill drag to the finish line was about a mile long with a headwind and kicked up at the end to 6 percent.  Twelve of these climbs was going to be something of a challenge.

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The weather was great, lovely and sunny and a nice day for racing. There was a fell run or something going on nearby with lots of runners on the road and a nearby gymkhana meaning a fair bit of traffic. However when the fell run was over, all of the competitors assembled on the uphill drag and there were hundreds of people giving a lot of vocal support and applause which made me feel almost pro like!

There were a number of attacks that got away and ultimately pulled back in. The race was organised by 3RT Cycling and they had a good strength team who set out to control the race from the off and did a good job of doing so with plenty of attacks and constantly had couple of men in the breaks, with good counter attacking when opponents brought them back. I tried to get in a break with two of them at one point but to no avail.

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John was biding his time, we had a few conversations mid race but like me his legs were feeling the pace a bit. John is famous in our team for putting in huge attacks and getting into a solo break about two thirds into the race and his team mates holding things back to help him get away. This attack never came for the same reasons – that Zoncalon feeling was persistent in the legs.

One the bell lap I made sure I stayed near the front as it was my only hope of getting a decent placing. Probably due to tiredness, I left my sprint too late and the uphill was taking it out of me so only managed to cross the line in around 14th place, just outside the points, and John got boxed in with nowhere to go was just behind me. No top ten’s for us today, but a great day out, a good leg tester and great race on a great course

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Many thanks to the organisers 3RT Cycling for putting on a great race and in the process raised £300 for the Dave Rayner fund

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VC Beverley / Wilsons Wheels Road Race 2nd July 2017

This weekend was a big one in the international cycling calendar with 2 massive events taking place. The Tour de France and the VC Beverley Road Race.

With Chronomaster having narrowly missed out on selection for ‘le grand boucle’ I was taking part in the VC Beverley Road Race which, despite the apparent disparity in media coverage, I think we all know is the big one!

As most of my team mates were, in the words of ‘ Smashy & Nicey’, ‘doing great work for charity’ by cycling in the Dolomites, I was the team’s only representative. It was up to me to try and get in the mix.

I had a long drive to get to East Yorkshire and the Race HQ in the lovely village of South Dalton but the 11am start meant I didn’t have to wake at too much of an unsociable hour.

As I arrived at the HQ the sun was shining and it was nice and warm so I was able to have a nice ride before the race. This, I convinced myself, could pass as a ‘warm up’.

During the pre race briefing we were told that the circuit was narrow and sporting. I had never ridden the course but, as we were to cover it around 8 and a half times for a race distance of about 60 miles, I guessed I would soon become familiar! It was essentially a square circuit which went through the village of South Dalton, left, follow the road for around 2 miles, left up the finishing hill which was around 500 meters long then around 2-3 miles along a roller coaster of a road back towards South Dalton, turning left through the village where we’d started out from to complete one lap.

After a brief half mile or so neutralised section the race turned left and we were off! I’d started at the back (as usual) and it immediately dawned on me that this was an especially bad place to be on this occasion. The road was only a single car width, the bunch completely blocked it and there was absolutely no way of moving up the field. I was stuck at the back and decided I would have to change my usual tactic and somehow get to the front.

I could see 2 riders attack immediately and they were getting clear. I was in no position to do anything about this if I had been so inclined.

After 2 miles or so into a block headwind along a completely straight, slightly undulating road, we turned left up a hill. This was the finish straight, or at least it would be in another 8 laps. As the bunch strung out I saw this was an opportunity, perhaps the only one, to move up. Despite my legs complaining I managed to get very close to the front. On the drag through South Dalton, a few miles later, I managed to get to the very front.

As we turned left onto the long, straight headwind section we could see the 2 escapees but they had a good gap. Jake Birkin from Clay Cross RT jumped clear and gave chase. I joined him and together we got a small gap. With over 7 laps and 50 miles of the race still remaining we put our heads down and went in pursuit of the breakaway.

19866592_10155553953766055_498099107_n After around 4-5 miles we caught the leaders, Tom Wood of Prologue Racing Team and John Heapey of Squadra RT. With a small gap and 4 willing riders we committed fully to the cause not really knowing how the race would unfold. At this time we had a slender lead and 45 miles still to go!

We rode in team time trial formation with each rider doing their turn. As we pressed on the lead grew but only ever up to around a minute over the bunch.

As the laps passed by we didn’t seem to falter as a foursome and held our lead. With 5 and a half laps to go John started missing the odd turn and seemed most disheartened when there was still 5 laps to go but we persevered and, in my opinion, didn’t seem to be slowing down at all.

We were committed down the headwind stretch and shared the work perfectly, we rode sensibly up the climbs and seemed to smash it round the back, tail wind assisted section.

I later learned that the bunch had been fragmenting with chase groups forming but, thanks to us being able to hold our pace, nobody had been unable to cross the gap.

With 2 laps to go we lost John but as a threesome we didn’t seem to lose any momentum. We knew we were fully committed now and had no option but to keep going and try to stay clear. If a fresh bunch or break caught us now, our efforts would surely leave us weakened and our chances of glory diminished.

We pressed on. No cat and mouse tactics and no shirking. We could worry about the finish when we got there, if we could stay clear.

With 4 miles or so to go, and still holding our lead on the group, Tom cramped up (simultaneous leg and arm cramping he later revealed) on the penultimate climb, the drag up through South Dalton, leaving just Jake and I out front.

We both knew we had to keep going. On the final push along the headwind section we kept working and there was absolutely no glass cranking! We could worry about our finish tactics if we kept clear.

As we reached the final left hand bend towards the finishing climb I managed to manoeuvre Jake to the front. We’d been quite well matched through the race and I had no idea how the finish would unfold but thought my best chance would be to let Jake start things off.

I thought Jake might try and wind things up from the base of the climb to test the old fellas legs but he rode fairly sedately so I was waiting for him to start his sprint. I had no idea how my legs would react when he did.

As the finish approached we were both being cagey and didn’t want to start sprinting too early and blow it. With around 100 meters to go, and feeling like I had 100 meters of decent uphill sprinting in me, I went for it. I expected Jake to get on my wheel but when I glanced backwards I could see I had a slight gap so I just buried myself, ignoring the screams of mercy from my cramping legs, and I wasn’t slowing down.19832752_10155553953706055_2033634102_n

As I looked back again I had some 15-20 meters lead and, with the finish line now right in front of me, I knew I had it. I even had chance to think to myself ‘do I have time for some self indulgence?’. I did, so up went the arms for a great finish line photo!

Jake was second but Tom and John had been caught by the chasing group before the finish and ended up in the minor placings.

My victory was especially satisfying after such a long break away and, despite my tiredness, the long drive home would be no chore in my high spirited state.

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I’d like to thank VC Beverley for organising a great race on an exciting and challenging circuit and Jason Brookes & Simon Posnett for the photos.

 

 

 

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TMG Horizon Road Race

I drove a long way South on Sunday to participate in the TMG Horizon Road Race, near Leighton Buzzard. This was due to be a long race, over 160km on “rolling” roads, and combined with a different crowd of riders from who I’m used to racing against, I was ready for a good challenge.

At 1300 we were ready to start the race. The wind was fairly strong, but fortunately the sun was shining. As the race was so long, and on unfamiliar roads with a strong wind, I gave myself some good advice: stay in the bunch and save my beans at least for the first two laps (approx 1 hour). Obviously I completely ignored my own advice, and on the first lap I was already attacking!

Jon Fowles

As ever, the first few moves never work. But I was at the front of the pack and ready to tag along any wheels that shot past me. It was on the second lap that I took an opportunistic move on a fast section passing through a village. I gunned it, and picked up a few riders, and we managed to jump on the back of another group who were already up the road. There were now about 10 of us, and we proceeded to work together to pull out a gap. With the strong wind, this was really really hard work, and for the next few laps our gap on the pack was only around 1 minute. We needed to press on.

Around half way through the race (4th lap of 8), on a particularly gnarly section of the course, my Garmin decided to eject itself from my bike. This was pretty bloody annoying, as I had no numbers to look at, no idea what power I was doing… and I felt a bit blind (terrible I know)!
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Another few laps passed, and a group of 5 riders bridged across to our group. Around the same time, some of the existing riders got dropped, so our group remained around the size of 10, but it soon became obvious that too many people were tagging on the back not doing any work. It came to the penultimate lap, and it was time to do something about this. The pace was too low, and we all knew this. One of the stronger riders in the group made an attack on a draggy uphill section. I nailed myself to get onto the back of this, but quickly realised that after 3 hours of racing my legs were pretty smashed. We hit the windy section, and pushed on, but it hurt like hell, and didn’t feel like we were making much progress. We held off the riders behind until the start finish hill, and I ramped up the pace, hoping that the hill would split the riders behind and a few individuals would join me. This didn’t work. I got caught, and I was almost completely done!!

Now the attacks continued. I tried my best to tag along with them, but I had to resign to letting others do any chasing. I knew I could do well if I could make it to the uphill sprint finish, I just had to get there in the front group. Amongst the attacks, Joe Clark (Team Giant Sheffield) and 4 other riders got off the front. Even if I wanted to, I didn’t have the power to chase this group. I sat in with the remaining and waited for the uphill finish, hoping we’d regain contact. As we got closer some more riders clipped off the front. With 1km to go I attacked the group I was in, managed to pass a couple of riders on the hill…. and rolled home in 8th place. I was hoping for more, but on such a long race, in conditions that didn’t really favour me, I had to be pleased with my result.

Huge congratulations to Joe, who took a great win.

Thanks to TMG Horizon for putting on a great race.

Posted in Blogs, Results and Reports

The Racing Chance Foundation Pimbo 3/4

Sunday was the Racing Chance Foundation Pimbo road race. The full day event featured an E/1/2/3 race in the morning, the Womens 3/4 after this and then my event, the 3/4.

Before the race I looked through the start sheet to try and guess how the race might play out. There was no obvious large team so it was going to hard to choose which attacks to go with.

I turned up and decided to watch from the front of the bunch and mark any attacks I thought looked strong enough. Due to no large teams being there everyone was racing against each other and no attacks got away for more than half a lap. The field was strong and it seemed no one had turned up “just to get round”. After numerous surges to no avail, I decided to move back in the bunch and save my legs for a sprint, after seeing a group of three strong guys get away and again be pulled back in very quickly I knew I made the right decision.

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Ending up on the front, not the plan! Wasn’t there long.

The race was pretty uneventful from about 5 laps in. Someone would attack, the peloton would surge, string out, catch break, all back together, repeat etc.

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On the last lap I could see a few riders were in agreements with each other and a select few got on the front to drill it to the finish line. The sprint on Pimbo is a funny thing, as soon as you turn the last corner you can see the line from about 600m away. I was hoping lots of people would get a bit eager here and start sprinting from too far out, I could hide in the bunch and hope everyone had faded before the line. I did my best to choose the right wheels and gritted my teeth but made sure not the snap until the right moment. 200m(ish) from the line I got out the saddle and went against everything my legs were saying. I was about 12th wheel and managed to make it up to (a very close!) 3rd by the time I crossed the line. Happy with that! Now only 15 points off a Cat 2 license!

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Well done Daniel Stevens!

Well done to Daniel Stevens from Liverpool Century RC on the win! I believe he also got both primes so a strong ride there.

Thanks to the Racing Chance Foundation for putting on a great days racing. Also, a big thank you to Ellen Isherwood for the pictures (and looking after my bag!).

Posted in Blogs, Results and Reports

Warrington 4 up TTT and ‘An Ode to Old Faithful’

By Stephen Feeney

Team Chronomaster recently embarked upon one of its biggest challenges of 2017 in an attempt to lay to rest the ghosts of recent years, to try and actually get a team to the start line in the Warrington 4 up 25 mile team time trial.

The event is now well established in the local race calendar and I’m proud to say I’ve been in the winning team on a couple of occasions over the years.

We’d been particularly ambitious this year, we weren’t attempting to get one team to the line but two!

After the protracted and arduous task of recruiting willing riders, two teams were formed (albeit one included a ‘ringer, namely James Claydon from Bill Nickson Cycles RT)

Team A – Warren, Craig, Jon F & Tommy
Team B – Ste, Kris, George & James

I would be down as a reserve for the A team just in case we needed to jiggle things around in the likely occurrence (considering out TTT history!) of a non starter.

As sure as night follows day, we failed to get our full compliment of riders to the event on the night. We arrived at the event with 7 riders, which was a great improvement on recent years! Tom was otherwise detained. So I made the switch to the A team.

Old Faithful - Ste FeeneyThis was a prospect I was not particularly looking forward to. Craig, Warren and Jon are on great form and they were sporting the very best in TT bikes. I felt like I was on good form but that my vintage steed may put me at a disadvantage. However, I was keen to try and help the boys as much as possible in search of victory.

Team B were most understanding about being reduced to a threesome!

As we rolled to the line, with me set to lead us away, an old team mate of mine, Mike Jones now of Warrington Road Club, was going to push me off! We had a bit of a chat and catch up having not seen each other for probably around 15 years. Interestingly, he recognised my bike from the old days!

Our tactic was to build up speed steadily and settle in over the the first mile or two but we seemed to hit speed straight away and immediately settled into the ride. I felt petty good from the start, it was hard but I was happy that I was going to be able to contribute!

We rode in formation virtually without hitch for most of the race. There was a bit of a mix up as we passed another team that had just finished and were blocking the road as we started our 2nd lap but we got back in line and continued to tap through. Another hitch as we caught a team and a car meant we got split up slightly, I wasn’t as quick as some of my team mates getting through and the small chase to get back on had a quite marked effect on my tiring legs.

Although I was tiring I decided not to save energy by sitting on the back so I could get to the finish. I decided to keep working and doing turns until I popped. The team only needed 3 finishers and I felt doing a few extra turns was better for the team effort than sitting on the back saving myself. At the 18 mile point I swung off after giving my last contribution shouting encouragement to the lads who were all still looking good.

As I met the lads back at HQ I was told they’d finished with a time of 52 minutes and 6 seconds. Good enough for 2nd and ahead of some very strong teams.

Team B , looking remarkably fresh, had managed a great time of 56:35 with just 3 men and road bikes.

Back at HQ the post mortem into my own performance began. Maybe I wasn’t on form, maybe my old legs were no longer up to the job. At the forefront of my mind though was a recurring theory…was it time for a new bike? Could a new “state of the art” Time Trial bike really be better than a 24 year old, 10kg, steel Low Profile 🤔 More importantly could I have found a reason to buy another bike! (Please let the answer be yes!)

The standard of bikes now evident at any time trial borders on obscene. Practitioners in the art of Time Trialling leave nothing to chance, benefits of this helmet, those frames and these wheels are well known and documented.

Things were different back in the day when I first acquired my ‘Time trial’ bike which I believe must be one of the oldest bikes still competing against contemporary machines.

For a start, we called them ‘low profile’ bikes. So named due to the smaller front wheel (26” on my bike but 24” was also popular) that I believe was a Russian or East German invention which enabled riders to get closer to the rider in front for drafting purposes (Germany was divided into 2 countries in those days!)

There was no browsing through fancy catalogues and websites when I picked my bike. Local frame builders custom built your bike using steel or steel. I bought mine from Mike Dixon at Ormskirk. My brother had bought one from him a year or so before and it was ace! I wanted one too!

So, armed with a crude sketch of my own design of frame shape and colour, no doubt inspired by a cycling hero of the time, I went to see Mike.

I opted for Reynolds 531 tubing, my budget wouldn’t stretch to 531 ‘pro’ or 653. Never mind super exotic 753 or Columbus SL or SLX.

Only one gear lever boss was to be mounted (gear levers were on the down tubes) and no front mech braze on necessary, only one chainring was required!

Around 4 weeks later my creation was born and for the princely sum of around £200!!

A Campagnolo Chorus groupset was fitted, which featured delightful interlocking brake calipers, a single 53 tooth chain ring and a ‘straight through’ 12-18 seven speed block! All the gears looked the same size! A Simplex ‘retro’ gear lever was the lever of choice!

Wheels were 28 spoke ‘radials’, all MAVIC. This was as few spokes as you could have at the time.

I remember how light it was when I first weighed it up, a real talking point! How things have changed!

My first race on it was a 10 mile time trial on my 20th Birthday (March 1993). The course was the super fast J4/5, Byley – King Street- Northwich -Byley, and I managed a decent 22mins 33 secs for second place, narrowly missing out on the win. Perhaps a surprise for many for that I could post such a result but it was the start of many great years with my new acquisition.

Over the years we managed to notch up wins in individual time trials, district championships and team team trials. The last win being a 10 mile time trial in Cheshire in 2010 at the ripe old age of 17!

My bike is no ‘Trigger’s broom’ though. It still has all the original parts (Campag 😉). The sealed Mavic bottom bracket has never been maintained and runs so smooth it puts many modern units to shame! Only the wheels have been changed, a pair of Zipp ‘404’s’ replaced the original hoops in 1999.

Despite my fondness of this bike, and the many great memories it’s given me, I think the time has come for its retirement (not mine…yet!). However, it won’t be broken up and sold on, the parts would be eligible for an Eroica bike, it will be kept as a cherished ornament in ‘Bike Bedroom 1’ where I can still stare at it lovingly in the years to come.

In any event, the stem has been seized for many years (I tried to adjust them before the Leigh Premier RC 10 in 2003 but no chance. I remember because I won the race ☺️). The seat pin and seat tube are now also ‘as one’ and the bike, therefore, only any use to anyone of my exact size! Coincidentally such a man exists (my identical twin brother) and he has used the bike on several occasions!

I just hope it doesn’t get too jealous when it gets replaced a younger model!

Old Faithful - Ste Feeney

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